Cannabis advocates are cheering this latest victory for the movement! A three-judge appeals court ruled yesterday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has to lay off state-legal medical cannabis businesses and individuals.
The court used the language of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment as the foundation of their decision. The DOJ has been prosecuting state-legal medical cannabis businesses and individuals since the beginning of the era of state-legal cannabis business back in the mid-90’s.
They continued even after the passage of the amendment. They did not go after everyone, but pick and chose their subjects according to their daily whims.
This ruling is the second of its kind from Federal judges which rebuked the DOJ’s ultra-narrow interpretation of the amendment. The DOJ was operating as if the amendment only prevented them from interfering with State’s legislative efforts, and not from also prosecuting businesses or individuals who operate within those official laws.
About a year ago another judge burned the DOJ saying their interpretation of the amendment “defies language and logic, “tortures the plain meaning of the statute”, and is “at odds with fundamental notions of the rule of law.” Hardly a pat on the back!
This new ruling took it one step farther than the previous case, and literally referenced dictionary definitions to explain in the simplest and clearest way possible the meaning of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment.
In spelling out the definitions, the three-judge panel unanimously agreed that the amendment does prevent the Federal DOJ from prosecuting businesses and individuals who operate within State laws.
This ruling was in regards to a group of ten cases currently pending in Federal courts from California and Washington, and whether the DOJ has the authority to prosecute. Simply put, if there was no violation of state law, the DOJ has no authority to prosecute.
The ten cases were sent back to the lower courts for a review to see of any state laws were broken in each case. If there were no state laws broken, we should expect to see these cases dropped.
What affect do you think this ruling will have on the cannabis industry? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook!